Recently I talked about the top 10 Google Chrome apps that are essential for any Chrome users. Now it’s time to look on the other side of the Chrome Web Store at the extensions. Extensions aren’t full applications and usually help with things when you’re browsing. Unlike apps, extensions work with the webpage that you are viewing to enhance your experience make the site more useful. I’ve listed out below the top ten that should be inside everyone’s Google Chrome browser.
LastPass: There are a lot of password managers out there, including LastPass and 1Password, which are on the top of everyone’s list. LastPass is the best free and very secure password manager. LastPass also has extensions for Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. This free password manager keeps a secure database of the passwords to sites that you choose to keep and can assist you when logging in at any point. What’s also wonderful about this extension is its ability to help you fill out forms; it can use saved form data and insert information like your name, address, phone number, and so on to fill out the form faster. For those security conscious people, LastPass can even generate your passwords for you and fill them in.
bitly | a simple URL shortener: For those who find themselves sharing links constantly through Facebook, Twitter, IM, or whatever other sharing service they might be using, those links can get long and ugly. A service that I’ve used for a long time is bit.ly, and it’s worked wonders when sharing links through Twitter’s pesky 140-character limit. It has some awesome stats that can be looked over to see just what type of people are looking at your link and where they are coming from. There are lots of URL shorteners out there, but the only one I’ve really trusted is bit.ly because of its great uptime and archiving of all my links.
Google +1 Button: Google’s new social network has a button of its own called the +1 button, and many sites have been slow to add this button to their ever-growing array of social buttons. To speed up this process, Google has created an extension that gives you the ability to +1 any page that you are on with a little button that sits up next to your URL bar. It’s pretty simple to use and operate — just like the regular button. When you click on the button, it gives you the option to post about the site publicly on your Google+ page or just keep your +1 there. It’s also pretty neat in that it gives you the current +1 data about the site to see how many people +1′d it.
Turn Off the Lights: When watching YouTube videos, you can sometimes get distracted with everything else happening on the page — like animated ads or the suggested videos for you to watch next. For some people, it can be kind of hard focusing on the video they came to see. Fortunately, there is an amazing extension called Turn Off the Lights that will darken everything else on the YouTube page besides the video itself. Many video streaming sites already have this (like Hulu and Netflix). Now it’s been brought to YouTube and other video sites just by a simple keystroke.
Xmarks Bookmark Sync: As an alternative to those who don’t want to use Google’s bookmark sync method with their Google account, there are Xmarks. Xmarks does more than sync your bookmarks, though; it can save your open tabs and resume them in any browser. For example, if I’m working and I stumble across some links that I’d like to view at home, I can save my open tabs and open them from my house with one click. Xmarks is the top bookmark extension that has a simple user interface and extensive controls to help you manage and easily organize your bookmarks. I’ve used Xmarks for the past year and loved it since I first installed it. It works across all browsers, so you’re not limited to installing it just to Google Chrome.
Google Voice (by Google): For those who do business or don’t have a cellphone yet and love to text, Google Voice has been a great alternative due to the free calls and texting within the United States. It’s a free secondary number that can be used for both texting and calling. Google Voice has its own extension in Google Chrome to allow you to access your recent calls and texts from the browser. You can easily text clients or open up a call right from the browser. The Google Voice extension is great for those who need to access their Google Voice number quickly and easily.
Speed Dial 2: I’ve been recently turned on to Speed Dial 2, a simple home page-like experience that gives you access to your most visited pages and bookmarks for easy browsing. It’s a fast and easy way to access your apps, bookmarks, and browsing history. Speed Dial 2 is more than just a way to quickly access your top sites, but is fully customizable with themes and logos to make it your own. It even offers stats to see what you’re visiting the most. Its advanced stats and clean design make it a must for every Google Chrome browser.
Evernote Web Clipper: If you use the Evernote app for Google Chrome, you should take a look at the Web clipper that allows you to tag and clip out parts of a website to save for later. A great example for this might be a recipe for a pie; you can use the clipper to easily save it and email it to your mother so when you come home from college she can have baked it for you upon arrival! That, or you could also just use it for notes when studying and clipping out important events that you should remember.
Google Mail Checker: This extension is pretty simple and doesn’t need too much of an explanation. This simple extension links in with your Google mail account and displays how many unread messages you have and gives you quick access to your inbox by clicking on the icon in the browser bar. If you need to be in constant contact with your email, Google’s own mail extension will do this quickly and notify you. It’s been reported that other similar extensions break because of Google’s changing code, so having the official one will help you out greatly.
Add to Amazon Wish List: All too often we find ourselves browsing the Internet and finding a product that we want — but don’t want enough to buy right at that moment, so we end up saving the link or just forgetting about it. Amazon is the top site when buying products online and it has a great feature called Wish List that allows you to add anything and everything to a list that others can use to buy you gifts or you can use as a reminder for purchasing these items at a later date. Amazon previously was limited to only using the Wish List on its own website; it has now created a plugin that you can use to easily add products from different websites not associated with Amazon to your list. It’s a simple button click and Amazon will pull in information like a picture, title, and price and add it to your list. I installed this extension not thinking that I’d use it all that much, but I was wrong and have used it on a daily basis to bookmark things that I want to get.
Before I proceed with my conclusion, I want to address why I haven’t included ad blockers. Websites, such as this one, rely on advertisements to generate revenue and bring you content you love for free. To offset the cost of running a website and paying employees, advertisements pick up the tab so that sites can expand and grow. Using an ad blocker is like stealing; it’s lost revenue to the site that is working hard to bring you free content. So if you have one installed, please uninstall it.
Obviously I cannot include all of the top and recommended apps in this article or it’d get way too long. So if you’d like to add one, leave us comments below with what you think is a great Google Chrome Extension that everyone should be using or may find helpful.